This former bank in Mostar was claimed during the Croat-Bosniak war by snipers as a vantage point but is now a derelict building filled with colourful displays of art and graffiti. Standing 10 stories high it gives incredible panoramic views over the city and a chilling insight into why this building was occupied.
Between 18 October 1992 and 23 February 1994 Bosnia and Croatia were at war with each other, all while being in alliance in another war taking place at the same time. The bank was subsequently occupied by Croats and Serbs to take aim at any Bosniaks in sight. The building still riddled with bullet holes now stands as a concrete skeleton towering over any structures nearby.
The sniper tower is surrounded by 12 feet high concrete walls and the main entrance is bricked up, access is not advisable due to safety risks of broken glass, lack of stairwell railings and empty elevator shafts but any eager explorer can easily find a way inside if they don't mind getting their hands a little dirty. The inside walls are decorated with works of art, some humorous and others creepy, while the floor is garnished with litter, broken glass and some evidence that a bank once flourished.
Each floor is accessible by a large set of concrete stairs and the roof via a metal ladder, from there you can get a birds eye view of the city below and beyond. The building can also be a common hangout spot with locals which is when we got the fright of our life by two teenagers hanging out on one of the smaller staircases.
Unfortunately the Sniper Tower isn't the only building still scared by the recent war, it doesn't take long for your eyes to take notice of bullet holes lining main streets and bordering windows and sidewalks. However the damage left behind from the war says nothing about the people of Mostar, the locals are friendly, welcoming and easy to talk to I felt most at ease and probably the safest out of all the places I visited and I'm eager for another visit.
When I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina I wasn't prepared for the beauty that I was going to see and experience. I based myself in Mostar and travelled around surrounding towns and further north to Sarajevo for the day, the locals are kind, the food is great and the history is sobering. I wish I could have stayed longer because I know there was far more to discover than what I had in 3 days.
Explore the Town
This should always be the first thing you do when you enter a new city, get up early and experience the town during the golden hour when most people are still asleep, walk through the cobblestone streets and check out the markets later in the day. Enjoy some traditional baklava with an eastern European beer and get to know the locals. The fabulous thing about Mostar is that it's not a one level town; there are bridges leading to different streets and descending stone stairwells which take you to beautiful cafes and pubs.
Be sure to check out 'Stari Most', the towns old bridge which connects two parts of the city over the Neretva River. The current bridge is a rebuild of the original 427 year old, 16th century Ottoman bridge which was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War. Spanning 29 metres across the river and only 4 metres wide it's easily recognisable for it's arch shape, during the day in the summer months you will have the chance to see dare devils risking their necks to jump off the bridge which can reach 20 metres high depending on water level. The jump requires practice before hand to ensure no limbs are damaged entering the water as there have been a couple of deaths and serious injuries in the past.
Mostar also has their own pack of friendly stray dogs, which I believe a few of the establishments take turns in caring for, you will usually see about 3-4 of them wandering the streets together or soaking up the sun in the rocky platform below Stari Most.
If you're craving a cold beverage then check out the Black Dog Pub, the staff are great and the stone building borders the river below for a constant stream of natures music.
If history, war and abandoned buildings interest you then I suggest making the short trip to see the sniper tower in Mostar, the former bank which was claimed during the Croat-Bosniak war by snipers as a vantage point is now a derelict building filled with colourful displays of art and graffiti. It is not recommended to enter due to multiple safety risks, but standing outside the bricked up entrance is enough to make anyones spine tingle.
Standing 10 stories high it gives incredible panoramic views over the city, the building is surrounded by 12 feet high concrete walls and the main entrance is bricked up, access is not advisable due to safety risks of broken glass, lack of stairwell railings and an empty elevator shaft but any eager explorer can easily find a way inside if they don't mind getting their hands a little dirty.
If Mostar is going to be your main place for accomodation in Bosnia and Herzegovina then I recommend visiting Sarajevo for the day, there are plenty of museums which cover local history including the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the most recent Croat-Bosniak war. If you leave the main city centre and venture out to the main streets you will be able to spot buildings still scared with hundreds of bullet holes, a sobering experience really especially if you have just left one of the many pubs within the main centre.
A 20 minute drive south from Mostar you will find Blagaj Tekija, a 600 year old monastery sitting at the base of a cliff. The scenery surrounding the monastery is stunning with clear blue water fresh enough to drink straight from the river. It costs a few marks to enter the monastery and you must remove your footwear and cover up with head scarves and skirts which are provided if your clothing isn't already appropriate.
About an hour from both Mostar and Blagaj Tekija, these falls are truly a beautiful sight to be seen, the size of the falls differ all year round depending on rain fall but the pond below is freezing cold no matter how hot the summer temperatures can reach. To get to the other side there is a small boat that can take you across for a couple of euros and from there you can slowly dip into the cold fresh water and admire the falls from the pool.
Unfortunately there is no public transport to these falls but check with your accomodation as our hostel ran a day trip. It costs to enter so be sure to take a few euros or marks with you as well.
On your way back from Kravica you can stop into a historic town called Pocitelj, about 25 minute drive from Kravica and it is believed this town was built sometime in 1383 and is built up of stone. You can climb the many stairs to the top of fortress and overlook the town and valley below and explore the fortress itself. The town is well known for it's fresh juices such as pomegranate and cherry and the markets are hard to ignore.